Restaurateur’s herb growing bid gives planners food for thought

An example of hydroponic plant growing

A Thai restaurant owner who wanted to grow his own herbs and vegetables gave council planners food for thought.

But the planning committee decided that the application to build hydroponic greenhouses on land at Oakley Road, in Bromham, would be wrong for the area.

A meeting was told that no sufficient reasons were given why the committee should override its countryside and highways objections.

Planning agent Lydia Pravin said that the plan to harvest specialist Thai herbs and vegetables from the greenhouses would create two jobs and cut the cost of herbs for her client’s Tana Thai restaurant, in Bedford, in half.

She said the automatic cultivation would allow growing in a controlled micro-climate at any time of year and would use 70 per cent less water than traditional methods.

Bedford Borough Council planning officers recommended that the plan be rejected.

Even though the scheme would see food grown, the fact that roots would not grow in the ground turned it into an industrial use.

Cllr Sue Oliver (Lab, Kempston North) had “sympathy” for hydroponics as she thinks it is the way the world has to go if people are to be fed.

But she added: “On the other hand I have very little sympathy with this and I think this one would be out of context in the open countryside.”

Planning officers say the buildings, which look like shipping containers and aren’t made of glass like normal greenhouses, could be placed on any industrial site in the borough.

They said the proposed use could not be justified on that particular countryside site.

Committee members voted unanimously to reject the application.

by David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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